They’re almost gone now, but over the past three weeks I’ve been getting a lot of hits from a place called the ivillage message boards hosted by Parentsplace.com. They have all kinds of boards on just about anything that would interest parents, especially of the female variety. You want to talk about diapers? They’ve got it. Breastfeeding versus formula? That’s the place to go. Well, I can hear you wondering, do they talk about breastfeeding in public? What a silly question. Of course they do. Who doesn’t? And man can they talk… and talk and talk. They take their breastfeeding seriously.
What apparently happened was that an enterprising lady named Jennifer stumbled upon my original post (Breastfeeding in Public: let it all hang out) and found herself captivated. (All right, that’s my slant. In truth she may have been a touch ambivalent, but just a touch.) She thought it might be worth discussing and posted a link to it, but the going was pretty slow at first, as she testifies: “I posted this link to start a discussion and see what others thought. However, nobody took the bait. Maybe it was because of the way he starts his apologia, and people thought it was just another anti-BFIP opinion, or the author was some weirdo with a fetish. But, if you take the time to read it in its entirety, I think it’s a very interesting, thoughtful, male opinion.”
Do you sense the ambivalence? I think it might be that part about “some weirdo with a fetish.” But she concludes nicely, and proceeds to quote a few lines from the post, which really got the ball rolling. There are now 15 pages of comments over at ivillage concerning moi’s take on the matter. All right, to be precise, there are 15 pages, one comment per page which, now that I think about it, is pretty paltry considering I’ve gotten over 200 hits from these people with others still trickling in. You’d think one of them could drop a comment in the box.
On the other hand, after reading some of their comments, you might think I'd be well-advised to be glad they didn't.
Jennifer quotes something else from the piece and then says: "I thought this was very observant and articulately stated." I didn't take note of what passage she's referring too, but I figure any passage will do, the whole thing being so interesting, thoughtful, observant and quotable.
For example: "The baby's presence doesn't do much to vitiate a man's attraction to the sight of her breast. In fact, it may aggravate it. Even in our contraceptive times, her fecundity exerts a powerful subconscious pull." Concludes Jennifer: "I really never thought about it that way before, to be honest." [That's what I'm here for, Jen.]
But no sooner do I think Jen's completely on my side than she says this: "I have to admit, some of what he said---or, perhaps the way he said it---offended me a bit. It caught me off guard. Like his comments on wearing bras to reduce sag, the possibility of breastfeeding causing orgasm, or a 12 step program for mammaroholic men. But, all in all I found it insightful and thought-provoking, which is why I chose to share it."
And there she goes with the ambivalence again. Listen, Jen, I didn't make the orgasm stuff up; somebody else did, one of those "experts." And I was kind of proud of the 12 step program, but you can't please everyone. On the sag factor - okay, I'll admit maybe I had it coming. But only maybe. The fact that an observation is true doesn't mean I have to take pleasure in revealing it. But it was fun. And true. So there.
Another commenter agreed with Jen (on the insightfulness and thought-provokingness), saying, "So did I. Maybe he was so insightful because he had a b-f'ing wife." Madame, if you don't mind, could we just go ahead and spell that out - breastfeeding - so that it doesn't get misconstrued?
Another lady (I presume), going by the handle 'pterodactyl', offers further agreement: --"If you're sitting next to me, you can let it all hang out whether you are feeding the kid or not," and ended with, "I won't complain, and don't you complain either if I take a sneak peak." This sums it up pretty well, I think. [Thank you, signed, archaeopteryx].
And from Sherry: "It did give me some insight into my dh. No wonder he doesn't answer all my comments made on bf'ing, LOL! He did tell my dd that mommy's breasts were daddy's first, and she emphatically told him no. I think he's looking forward to the day when he has sole ownership, LOL!" [Seems the jolly sort, and right proud of the battle over the rights to her assets.]
But then, suddenly and inexplicably, disgruntlement and dissension set in. I should have expected it. Says Melissa: "I find it odd that he would 'get off' on about 2 cm (at best) of breast that has a KID attached to it," and goes on to mention that "there are probably men who get off on crowning babies." [Just a sec, Mel, I never said I 'got off' on anything, and that last thing you mentioned is way out of my league, and what brought it into your mind in the first place?]
Which causes some other lady to recall the days when she majored in history: "Jen - That's true. It was actually a French king (one of the Louis's I think), who instructed his royal physician to force his concubines to birth on their backs so he could watch and get off....before that women would birth squatting or sitting or on all fours.....I won't hide what I'm doing, but I won't flaunt my breasts either...LOL". [I was wondering, LOL, if you'd mind connecting that last sentence with its predecessors. And though it may not be important to you, those other Louis’s might not appreciate being tarred with the same brush as their deviant relative.]
Followed by: "Here's the thing. Whether he is a thoughtful guy, or just a creep, it hardly even matters. The point is (the point that he seems incapable of grasping) it is not about him. If I'm feeding my baby, I'm not paying too much attention to who is peeking. Be turned on, be grossed out, whatever. But (to quote an overused phrase) be discreet about it, why don't you?" [Umm…why do I need to be discreet if you're not paying attention?]
Hard upon which: "I kind of skimmed the piece, so I don't know if this came up. But is this guy even a father?" [That's what you get for skimming, lady.]
Someone finally, inevitably, latches on (figuratively) to the orgasm issue: "I know plenty of child-bearing aged women who admit they are not sure if they had an orgasm. Honey, if you're not sure, then you didn't have one!" [If you don't mind, I'll let you settle that one amongst yourselves.]
"Orgasm while breastfeeding? Huh? Is this conjecture or proven fact? I'd like to know what book his wife received that said this. I've heard it before, sure, but honestly, I think any woman who thinks she's having an orgasm when experiencing the uterine contractions during breastfeeding must not know what a REAL orgasm is". [See above.]
Jennifer, who got the whole thing going, apprehends the need for research and nails it down: It's rare, but it happens, says Ruth A. Lawrence, M.D., author of Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional. Both nursing and sex depend on increased levels of oxytocin, a hormone that triggers the milk "letdown" reflex and also puts women in the mood to cuddle (with their babies or partners). Oxytocin levels increase during sex and peak just before orgasm, which suggests that the hormone is central to sexual gratification. So some nursing mothers may become aroused, explains Dr. Lawrence, who stresses that "women shouldn't worry if this happens -- it doesn't mean something is wrong physically or emotionally."
I was pretty much okay with the verdict (why shouldn’t I be? It’s a girl thing), but a final respondent (the last one I looked at, anyway) is still repulsed: Sure..maybe some women do...but some men have orgasms looking at women's feet..that doesn't make it normal. After all..we still wear sandals don't we?
Lemme process that…okay, I think I’ve got it. Women who have orgasms while breastfeeding their kids are the moral equivalent of foot fetishists. Could she really mean this? But wait. Where do the sandals fit in? Let’s try again: Some men get off looking at women’s feet [for the record, I am not one of those men], but the women still expose their feet so that the perversity of the few may not dictate the modesty of the many. Ergo, though some men find the sight of a breast in nursing mode of… interest, shall we say…women are going to persist in this public expression so that the perversity of the many…Okay, I resent that, but I think it’s what she was trying to say before she got the targets of her ire mixed up. Oh, the darkness of reason.
(Just to be clear: I’m not saying that I don’t like women’s feet. They’re certainly a hell of a lot more attractive than the hairy hobbit-clods attached to most men. It’s just that, taken all by themselves…I don’t know, on second thought, maroon me on a deserted tropical island for a year and things could change, especially if Friday is all I have for company. But speaking generally, you know, at this moment in time, it’s the idea that the lovely foot is connected to a leg which is connected to this which is connected to that - all of which intricately interconnected parts resolve themselves into the whole entire enticing package -that really gets the engine running. I trust (please God) that was clear. (If not, it won’t be the first time – cf., almost all of the foregoing post.)
All in all, though, I think Jennifer deserves a tip of the hat. She read the whole thing without allowing her focus to be sabotaged by a single obnoxious sentence, evidence of an expansive and inquiring mind. I always knew I’d be discovered; I just didn’t think the breakthrough would come on a breastfeeding message board.
By the way, Jen, I’ve got another one that might interest you and your fellow bf’ers. It’s called “All Hot and Bothered About You-Know-What.” Let me know how it goes over.
I laughed, I cried...okay I just laughed. Especially liked the line where you ask they spell out "b'fing" to prevent misunderstandings. Lots of "Spanning the Globers" in here, pun unintended.
One thing about the internet that is universally true -- write a post about any controversial topic you can be sure of two things:
1) many will misread it or assign motives to the writer that never occurred to the writer.
2) many will misread it.
(Rinse & repeat).
Posted by tso email at March 3, 2004 06:08 PM
Now you've got me laughing.
Posted by William Luse email at March 3, 2004 06:43 PM
Speaking of crowning babies--
With my first baby, I was on bedrest, so we had to rent a Lamaze video instead of going to class. (Bear with me--pun intended--if I've told this story before). The soothing narrator was Patty Duke.
After a half-hour of push-and-breathe instruction, she cautioned us that "during labor, some women may feel sexual joy."
My husband and I gaped with incredulity at each other.
Anyway, turns out I had a c-section. The morning after, I was cuddling the baby. My husband tenderly took hold of her (stop reading here if easily offended, then pantomimed shoving her in and out between his legs and moaning.
I screamed and cried laughing, gasping, "OW!! MY INCISION!"
But, you know, in subsequent labors, I did actually feel a "Patty Duke Twinge" or two, but it was rather unpleasant, not joyful.
Posted by KTC email at March 4, 2004 09:04 AM
chuckle... I love it when you talk about b'fing Mr. Luse! You must be getting 1000 hits a day from Google on that one!
I'd love to hear Alicia's take on giving birth on your back. Every single reality birth show has the ladies strapped on their back, pushing up hill. Apparently the medical community has still not discovered the force that midwives have known about and used for centuries - gravity!!
Posted by Elena email at March 4, 2004 10:22 AM
I Love Modern Life. The computer has allowed me to enlarge my penis, restore its functionality (BTW, Cialis is WAY better), grow more hair, steal music and refinance my home, all at the same time!
And now, I consider the issue of breast-feeding in public. My only coherent response to that question is this: "Sure, go ahead. Just don't expect me to act...y'know, normal or anything.
Posted by Bubbles email at March 4, 2004 02:26 PM
KTC always gives us the goods after disclaiming, "stop reading here if easily offended"! :)
Posted by tso email at March 6, 2004 07:15 PM
She seldom disappoints. I wonder where my other female friends are. Hmmm?
Posted by William Luse email at March 7, 2004 03:29 AM
I scared them all away.
Posted by KTC email at March 7, 2004 07:56 AM
Or else they're fed up with breastfeeding.
Posted by William Luse email at March 7, 2004 03:57 PM
Let's not start drenching one another with puns again...
Posted by KTC email at March 7, 2004 06:49 PM
Okay, sorry. I'm back in control.
Posted by William Luse email at March 8, 2004 02:00 AM
I am doing an assignment on breastfeeding in public and i thank you for all your help.
Posted by Vivienne email at May 17, 2005 03:02 AM
My help? What's that mean, Vivienne? You're not going to plagiarize me are you? You'll give credit where it's due, right? If so, you're welcome.
Posted by William Luse email at May 17, 2005 03:08 PM